"Everything one can dream of, [...] the most surprising or stunning things, the richest or most exquisite architecture ; everything one can think about, dazzling fabrics, or characters not only wearing the very clothes, but also disclosing the very look and gestures of the countries where the action takes place, I saw it all tonight".
Stendhal described in these words his first night at the opera he had rushed to, as soon as he arrived in Italy, a country he had never visited until that very day. I was reading these few lines while I was on the Frecciarossa train - one way as well as another to inaugurate my interlude in Florence. Plus, everybody appreciates imagining oneself, using the words of another, dreaming to fall under the spell of the very same emotions.
And it is difficult not to feel you are where the action takes place, when you arrive in Florence. A dream-like setting takes shape within the Renaissance architecture and the backdrop of the piazza del Duomo, the streets rustle with people, while some silhouettes catch your eye. I remember having taken a closer look at the other travelers on the station's platforms, just as if the Pitti Uomo could swoop right to me, although it was my first time in town. I had been thinking about it for months now, but nothing ever compares to the few steps you take to make your entrance : the threshold of the Fortezza da Basso.
Whether you want it or not, you feel seized ; and whether you already know Florence or not, you will feel the jitters of doubt and triumph. The city seems to swing under your feet, and gets in tune. And then, you enter the stage.
Images blend one in another, and words get confused as the hours go by. "In Florence, you can see beautiful liveries, as well as you can hear long sentences"... That is certain. I prefer snapshots - and it seems I am not the only one, as you cannot tell how many cameras are strategically disposed in the whole place. You get used to the local geography fast : the stairs, the overhang or balcony, "the Wall". But let us come back to these few pictures : a hat caught in the act, an audaciously long collar, shoes that are in the mood, some well-assorted duos, luminous flashes - please note that the linen is more than welcome here -, and the mixing of fabrics and materials, shimmering, raw, or radiant.
And colors, always...
"What a science in the use of colors, in the way the outfits are composed ! There I saw the most beautiful of Veronese's pictures". Allow me to bring back Stendhal's words instead of my own ; because you easily run out of words when you come to the Pitti Uomo for the first time. The facades in Florence display incandescent shades in the light of a summer sun. And if you are more of a cocktail-type of person, if you prefer having a drink on a terrace than strolling on the quays of the Arno, take a look at the amber-like reflections of your Negroni. Then, you might understand what a moment stolen from the agitated streets can be. An open-air gallery seems to echo the Uffizi ; but this one is moving, and does not wait for the sun before disclosing the most exquisite combinations of colors. And when the sunlight gets too heavy, take a chance on some silent and narrow street. A vitrine may display blooming fabrics of ties or scarves... and adorn your collar with a little ray of Florence’s summer light.
Here comes the night and its chatterings. The shadow of an Italian palazzo is an invitation to share confidences, and you let yourself relax while the street's rustling slowly overcomes your own thoughts. "There are some wholly natural manners, and sweet joy. No seriousness, nor gravity, at all", as Stendhal would say - again. Clear silhouettes and tuxedos seem to blur, from the shady and serene Italian gardens, to the cocktails’ kaleidoscope in the bar counter's reflections. Everyone strikes the pose, of course, but this time, we are smiling. It is the same old song, we have been humming it all day long. At night, everybody gets a little less serious.
"No seriousness, nor gravity, at all". Never. Why be serious when you can be passionate ? I would replay these exacts words in my mind several times, while chatting in a restaurant's corner. Just like the spirit of these nights, the sartorialist is "zero-gravity" - "light-hearted", Stendhal would say. The man from Pitti Uomo knows how to smile for a word of wit, the fold of a collar, the shimmer of a fabric, or for the pleasure to feel at the right place, or eventually even at home. Giving up serious gravity in order to understand what being passionate really means. Stendhal - here he goes again - says it better : "Whatever is exactly reasonable cannot have anything to do with fine arts". Does it really sound reasonable to love a jacket lapel so much that you want to see how it looks under an Italian sky ? Only time will tell - and if not, next summer in Florence will...
Cover by @raulvillanuevaa